With our baby girl on the brink of entering the second half of her second year (aka 18 month birthday!), we’ve been talking more about the reality of making her a big sister. There is such a fine balance required, I think, when talking and making decisions around family planning. We try to maintain a balance between the knowing and the uncertainty. Between the practical and the miraculous.
Trying to find this balance is our forever challenge. For us, this process looks like conversations over morning coffee or on late afternoon walks to the park. It means taking time to get on the same page and discuss goals for our family, honoring the dreams we held when we said “I do”, the reality in which they are taking shape, and the incredible potential we have yet to dream. We converge on the possibilities of what it might mean for our little family, in the short-term and the long-term. It also looks like hands held together, his and mine, in prayer. In church pews, in the shelter of our marriage bed, under a starry summer sky, we quiet our minds holding our two-become-one heart open to His holy will.
And when we honor the place He holds in our marriage – as our third strand, its center – we are centered.
We can hear His whisper, “Abandon the worries and abide in My love.”
And I begin to prepare my body for the humbling work of growing a little one if we are so blessed.
Here’s what I’m doing to help increase fertility, successful conception, and ultimately prepare for pregnancy:
1. Caffeine: Switch to half-caff coffee
Each day, the first thing I do when I wake up is brew a pot of coffee. And that’s only if it’s not already scheduled on auto-brew the night before. That coffee smell wafting through the early morning air is perhaps one of my favorite things. To pass up this sacred moment of the day would be terribly unbearable so I must ease into it. That’s where the half-caff comes in (half regular + half decaf). Once pregnancy is confirmed, it has been recommended to reduce or remove caffeine to optimize fetal growth. So I propose that, ‘not pregnant yet’ grants me the ability to still enjoy caffeine, just at half of the usual rate (amiright?)! This article about caffeine and conception made me smile.
2. Vitamins: Start prenatal supplements
After pouring my morning coffee, I promptly fill up a glass of water and take a multi-vitamin. Now is the perfect time to switch to prenatal vitamins. Beginning them at this stage, can be so valuable because we don’t know we’re pregnant until we’re already pregnant (usually for around 2-3 weeks at least)! I have started taking prescription prenatals that my doctor prescribed and our health insurance does a decent job of reimbursing. Some good options for beginning include a folic acid supplement (at least 400 micrograms), or a prenatal vitamin with folic acid (over-the-counter or prescription). Also taking a fish oil supplement has been shown to have benefits as well.
3. Fat: Increase healthy fats
Fats are essential in hormone production. They are the critical signals that give the green light for ovulation, conception, implantation, and growth to occur in those early weeks. But the building blocks of hormones are not just any kind of fat. They are healthy mono- and poly-unsaturated fats (think olives, avocados, and nuts) and healthy saturated fats from animals (think dairy, eggs, and meat). So I’ve been adding avocado to our weekend grilled cheese routine, switching my yogurt to the whole milk version, and enjoying more eggs.
4. Sugar: Reduce sugar
By the end of the day, long after my caffeine bliss has worn off, I’m often found reaching for something to satisfy my sweet tooth. Now I
poke my eyes out do this less. Increased levels of sugar and simple carbohydrates (which convert to sugar) can make our bodies work harder. Sugars can cause a commotion of damage, decrease our immune systems, and put undue burden on the liver in trying to detoxify and recalibrate to homeostasis. When the liver is not functioning optimally, the hormonal system is not either, which of course is critical for conception and maintaining a pregnancy.
5. Alcohol: Casually hide wine cabinet key
I know, I know, it can be tempting to want to savor those last drops of heaven’s nectar. But this one is important in maintaining the integrity of the very cells which will be building blocks for a little person. Officially, no safe level of alcohol consumption during pregnancy has been established. So celebrate with a final glass of wine if you must but I will be putting a cork in my weekend indulgences. And while we’re on the topic, Mike is more conscious of his beer count these days which makes me weak in the knees and grateful to his commitment in our journey.